FIJI is now banking on the New Zealand All Whites to beat hosts the Solomon Islands in their Oceania Nations Cup final pool match tomorrow.
Fiji failed to secure maximum points in their second pool match against the Solomon Islands at the Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara yesterday with the match ending in a disappointing stalemate (0-0).
The national side, which lost to the All Whites 0-1 in their opening pool match on Saturday, once again finished poorly.
The Juan Carlos Buzzetti-coached side will need to beat Papua New Guinea with a good margin and hope the All Whites do them a favour, to stay in contention for a top four finish.
Assistant coach Kamal Swamy believes they still have a good chance of making the semis, which will be played on Friday.
He said they were only focusing on beating PNG with a good goal margin and relying on the All Whites to put the hosts out of the tournament.
New Zealand would not like to lose any match in this tournament and will be going for a win. We just need to score more than a goal against PNG to stay in contention, Swamy said. The Nadi mentor said they were unfortunate to draw with the Solomon Islanders despite having better possession throughout the match.
Both teams were cautious with their attack because both wanted to qualify for the semi-finals, Swamy said.
Unfortunately our players were unable to score despite the chances they had. I think this (the missed opportunities) is bound to happen in this type of intense battles. But overall we are satisfied with the performance of the team.
The Simione Tamanisau-skippered side dominated play in almost all facets of the game, including the card count, which saw four Fiji players yellow carded.
The side was left ruing the missed opportunity to beat the Bonitos and improve their chances of making the semis.
Tamanisau was impressive at goalkeeper making some desperate saves early in the opening spell and midway the second half to keep Fijis hopes alive.
Strikers Roy Krishna and Osea Vakatalesau were off target with almost all their attempts at goal.
The New Zealand-based Krishna probably had the best chance of clinching the winner but he was unable to beat goalkeeper Felix Ray Jr on a one-on-one occasion in the second half. He was stretchered off the field following the tackle by Ray Jr. Swamy confirmed Krishna was OK and would be featuring in Fijis final pool clash against PNG at 1pm tomorrow (Fiji time).
The host scored through their skipper Henry Faarodo early in the match but the referee ruled the goal offside.
Fiji also scored through Pita Bolaitoga but that goal was deemed offside as well.
Fiji - Simione Tamanisau (C), Avinesh Suwamy, Samuela Vula, Taniela Waqa, Pita Bolaitoga, Osea Vakatalesau, Alvin Avinesh, Roy Krishna, Remueru Tekiate, Samuela Kautoga, Ilisoni Tuinawaivuvu.
Solomon Islands - Felix Ray Jr, Mostyn Beui, Henry Faarodo (C), Tome Faisi, Abraham Iniga, Joe Luwi, James Naka, Leslie Nate, Seni Ngava, Loni Qaraba, Nelson Sale Kilifa.